Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Monday reported that the flight recorder from Sunday’s air crash has been recovered from the crash site. All 157 on board the flight were killed.
However, an airline official told AP that the black box is partially damaged. “We will see what we can retrieve from it,” the official added.
The aircraft had taken off from the Ethiopian capital at 8.38 am local time (11.08 am Indian time), but lost contact at 8.44 am near Bishoftu, 60 km southeast of Addis Ababa. The flight was going to Nairobi in Kenya. An eye-witness told AFP the plane caught fire before it crashed.
There were people of 33 nationalities on board. Four Indians were also among those killed in the crash, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.
There were at least 19 United Nations officials, including from the World Food Program, the UN Refugee Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization, on the plane. Some of the officials were enroute to the UN’s environmental conference in Nairobi, which began on Monday.
“Early indications are that 19 staff members of UN affiliated organizations perished,” said International Organization for Migration head Antonio Vitorino, according to AFP. “Numerous other staff members from at least five UN and affiliated organizations are understood to have also perished.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was saddened at the loss of lives and extended condolences to the government and the people of Ethiopia. “The United Nations is in contact with the Ethiopian authorities and working closely with them to establish the details of United Nations personnel who lost their lives in this tragedy,” he added.
A day of national mourning was declared in Ethiopia on Monday.
Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft being grounded across world
A plane of Indonesian airline Lion Air had crashed in October shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers on board. The plane was the same model as the one that crashed on Sunday.
In a statement, the Ethiopian Airlines said it has decided to ground all Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft following the crash. “Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the fleet as an extra safety precaution,” it said. Cayman Airlines will ground the aircraft model too, as will Indonesian carriers.
Indonesia said it will inspect all its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes. China on Monday said it has ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. Indian carriers SpiceJet and Jet Airways are yet to make public statements about their fleet.